A Rheumatologist, a Dermatologist, and an Eye Doctor Walk into a Bar

The eye doctor, at least, pauses to say, “I’m so sorry this is happening to you.”

Friends, I have staph infection in my eyes. So I have teeny boils on the inside of my world-weary lids that scrape my eyes when I blink. And my tear ducts are blocked. “No More Tears” indeed — not the selling point Johnson & Johnson once thought. My vision is shit.

This loveliness is caused by an autoimmune condition that has migrated from rheumatological to dermatological to opthmalogical realm of concern. Maybe the eye doctor forwarding photos will spur some action. The dermatologist was a bust. My rheumatologist is trying, but insurance companies can be difficult.

(First person to brag about the Canadian or European healthcare systems without providing a viable path to immigration gets blocked. Sorry, but I just can’t with it right now.)

I’m not dying or anything, at least not any more than anyone else these days. I have a psoriatic arthritis, and it’s now affecting my eyes as well as my skin. My weirdo immune system is attacking the bacteria that live naturally on human skin, including mine — and doing so with admirable but destructive zeal.

The pain in my small joints is back — it had been in remission — so my wrists, fingers, and toes. That’s the PsA too. The muscle spasms and cramps in my large muscles and extreme tenderness in my sternum — that’s fibromyalgia because why the hell not.

No clue if the respiratory issues I’m having this week tie into any of this. My doctors need to coordinate with each other better than they have been doing. Whatever the cause, it’s effect is severe inflammation.

You know I have been walking around for about five months thinking, something isn’t right. I’m missing something. I’m pretty sure I’ve driven a couple of friends I’ve confided in around the bend at times as I wondered aloud what the heck was going on with me. I’m still not sure that last spring, I didn’t have something Covid, or Covid-adjacent.

You know the anxiety, right? We feel it with the oncoming election. We feel it with our health, with our loved ones’ health. We know we can no longer rely on our leaders or on systems. We see that our doctors are in this as much as we are. We get that test results throw false negatives, and in that moment of shortness of breath, even the best of us with the best possible lay understanding can question the usefulness of getting tested.

I watch loved ones measure their choices against other people’s choices, and I at once get where they’re coming from and see our sad math, the race to a bottom and a thorough understanding of “exponentially increasing infection rates.”

Yes, I’m pathologically polite and at times stupidly optimistic. I’m telling you now: It’s an act. I see reality and know that arguing with you is futile. I am tired. I have a freaking staph infection in my eyes.

I’m hoping that by confiding my personal situation and some feelings en masse, I can rally some focus over the next week to facilitate communication among members of my medical team and get Operation Calm Down Colleen’s Immune Response underway.

I may be erratic with my social. I am so sorry. But fuck damn shit bloody hell — I need my friends.

Peace out. ✌🏻

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